MPs tear into 'over-casual' Boris Johnson after fresh expenses rules breach

Posted On: 
8th April 2019

MPs have torn into Boris Johnson after it emerged the top Tory MP once again breached Commons expenses rules.

Boris Johnson has been previously taken to task over expenses rules breaches
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The former Cabinet minister failed to register his part-ownership of a property in Somerset until almost a year after the deadline.

MPs on the Committee on Standards said the ex-foreign secretary had shown an “an over-casual attitude towards obeying the rules of the House”.

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They ordered him to be re-schooled on the expenses rules after previous breaches over payments for book royalties.

Mr Johnson was gifted a 20% ownership in the property in January 2018 but failed to register it - and rental income he received from it - with parliamentary watchdogs until January 2019.

He told Commons bosses he misunderstood rules which say land or property worth more than £100,000 and rental income of more than £10,000 a year must be registered within 28 days.

According to a report from the Committee on Standards, he apologised and said it was only in January this year that he realised and “sought to make amends”.

Mr Johnson was previously taken to task by the parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for failing to register nine outside income payments within the deadline.

He told the Commissioner for Standards that his register of interests was up to date afterwards, but just months later, the breach over the Somerset property came to light.

Commissioner Kathryn Stone said the new failure “might be regarded as showing a lack of respect for the House’s rules and for the standards system”.

She added it did not "demonstrate the leadership which one would expect of a long-standing and senior Member of the House, nor compliance with the general principles of conduct”.

The Committee on Standards agreed with the Commissioner that Mr Johnson should have checked Commons rules more carefully.

It reiterated a previous finding that he had displayed an “over-casual attitude towards obeying the rules” and “a lack of effective organisation within [his] office”.

It said: “We require that Mr Johnson should meet with the Registrar of Members’ Financial Interests in person to receive a full briefing from her about his obligations as a Member to register all relevant interests in accordance with the rules.”

And it added that another breach could result in a “more serious sanction”.

'PATTERN OF BEHAVIOUR'

Mr Johnson told the Committee: “I repeat my apologies to the Committee for my inadvertent delay in registering the property, and stress that the error was rectified as soon as I became aware of it.”

But Shadow Cabinet Minister Jon Trickett said: “Boris Johnson’s façade of buffoonery will not hide the fact that he has broken the rules for failing to declare his financial interests. Worryingly this is becoming a pattern of behaviour: it is the tenth time he has registered his financial interests late. 

“Mr Johnson has to realise that these rules are in place to strengthen democracy and ensure the interests of MPs are transparent. He cannot simply run roughshod over them.

“The report notes his lack of leadership in following the rules, which does not bode well should he have ambitions to topple Theresa May.”